Tag: UWE Bristol

UWE Bristol Fellowship to combine traditional printing with cutting-edge technology

A T-shirt print capable of warning its wearer when dangerous chemicals are in the air, and pharmaceutical packaging with ink signifying when pills are counterfeit are just two ideas likely to emerge from a new research project involving the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and a leading scientist and print industry expert.

Starting in January 2018 at UWE Bristol’s Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), a five-year £1.5m project funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) will combine elements from 19th century reprographic methods used in security printing with modern day techniques. This is set to give rise to a new design of print head for commercial printers, development of the next generation of inks with distinctive properties and new ways of printing.

The Manufacturing Fellowship grant from EPSRC has been awarded to Dr Susanne Klein, making her the first woman to receive it since its launch in 2012. Dr Klein is a renowned expert in the fields of physics and material science and previously held a senior research position at Hewlett Packard. For the research, Dr Klein will set up a laboratory in and collaborate with the CFPR.

Susanne_KleinThe research will combine the CFPR’s knowledge of traditional photomechanical printing methods, such as Lippmann and Woodbury, and re-adapt the techniques for use on a 2.5D printer, which creates texture as part of an image on a substrate.

Using her expertise in colloidal chemistry (working with particles suspended in a solution), and liquid crystals, Klein will also develop specialist inks that can change colour in certain environments.

Such properties could mean a T-shirt print might be able to detect chemicals in the environment that have a proven link to cardiovascular disease, and change colour to warn the wearer. Similar ink on the garment could also react to heat and change colour when the wearer has spent a long time in the sun.

Smart inks could also help manufacturers trace a product as it passes through the supply chain, or curb counterfeiting.

Dr Klein said, “There are lots of problems with counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and sometimes products are found to be counterfeited where the packaging is identical to the original. We will produce packaging with printing ink that will change colour every time it passes through and is authorised at a different stage on its way to the customer.

“Another application could be in the case of food that needs to remain cold in its packaging. The technology could lead to labels that react to heat, switch to another colour if they have warmed and stay that colour.”

The UWE Bristol research is likely to impact the printing industry, although this is not a change that will happen immediately, said Klein: “The printing landscape is changing and I think our research will contribute to that, but the industry is traditional with its own way of doing things, and no big printer will make any radical changes. Our plan is to feed in little advances, bit by bit, so that commercial printers can adapt slowly to new technologies.”

The funding will provide £300,000 per year for five years to the University and Klein will set up a team comprising a post-doctorate student and a technician to work with the CFPR to develop this new printing approach.

Professor Carinna Parraman, Director of the CFPR said, “We are honoured to receive this grant, in a context that is unprecedented nationally in an art school environment. This is a unique opportunity to pair an experienced material scientist, coming into academia with industrial and manufacturing process knowledge and skills, with the CFPR’s expertise in photomechanical processes invented in the 19th century.”

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Glow: how reflective packaging could help pedestrian visibility on unlit roads

GlowDeborah Smith was on her degree placement in Africa when she had the idea for a product that might help people walking on rural roads at night to be more visible to drivers.

Her degree at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in Geography and Environmental Management gave her the chance to go to Swaziland for four weeks. There she measured pollution levels in the Komati river to assess a possible link to nearby sugar cane plantations.

But it was when Smith drove home after sunset that she noticed how difficult it was to see pedestrians on narrow, unlit roads. “At the end of every day we tried to get home before dark because you couldn’t see cattle or pedestrians,” she recalls. Later, during a trip to South Africa, the car she was travelling in almost ran over two pedestrians wearing black clothing who were walking on a road with no lighting.

Smith knew that reflectors could make a difference to pedestrian safety. “I wanted people to access more visible materials, but knew that selling reflectors in local shops wouldn’t work, as the little money people have, they spend on food,” says the entrepreneur. She therefore came up with the idea of incorporating reflective material into the packaging of everyday consumer goods, such as bread or tea.

After returning to UWE Bristol, Smith pitched her idea at Pitch and Pie, a yearly event for students to pitch a business idea to an audience. “This served as a springboard because afterwards I was encouraged to take part in the University’s eight-week self-employed summer internship,” she says.

The internship provides students with £1000 to try out an idea for a project or business. After gaining a place on the scheme, Smith was given access to free desk space at the University,  where she researched how to progress her idea commercially.

A mentor provided through the scheme advised her on how best to apply for funding and how to pitch to corporations like Unilever or Coca-Cola. The adviser also provided her with contacts, including a health professional with expertise on road safety.

Later, Smith presented her project – which she named ‘GLOW’ – during one of the University’s Bristol Distinguished Address Series (BDAS) talks. These lectures feature industry leaders talking about topical subjects. Smith’s presentation before the main talk, gave her the opportunity to present to students, staff and local businesses, and receive invaluable feedback.

Smith says her participation in the University’s various enterprise activities has taught her how better to network, the importance of using social media in business, and allowed her to push herself outside of her comfort zone. “I don’t think this idea would have gone any further than my head if it hadn’t been for UWE,” she says. “The biggest thing I learned was not to give up, and to look at different aspects to approaching a problem,” adds Smith.

As well as pursuing her business idea, the mother of two has gone on to study for a Masters in Environmental Health at UWE Bristol. She is also involved in BoxED, a UWE Bristol scheme involving postgraduates who go into schools to inspire and advise on the possibilities of higher education, and to help pupils map out their potential career paths.

UK’s complex tax code and complacency  leads to more tax avoidance – UWE Professor

UK’s complex tax code and complacency leads to more tax avoidance – UWE Professor

Nicholas Ryder, who is a Professor in Financial Crime at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) says the UK authorities’ ‘lacklustre’ approach to enforcing its financial crime provisions, and a highly complex tax code, has played a significant role in enabling individuals to avoid or evade tax.  Tax evasion expert Sam Bourton (who is an Associate Lecturer in Law at UWE Bristol), agrees that such complexity means a lot of money is siphoned from the City of London.

Once again documents revealing the tax activities of some of the rich and powerful have come to light in the media, after a whistleblower leaked 6.8m documents relating to Appleby, a firm that helps companies set up shop in low-tax jurisdictions. These ‘Paradise Papers’ (so-called because many tax havens are located on paradise-like islands) have led to a media storm, decrying the likes of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Apple because of their links to tax avoidance schemes through the firm. Tax avoidance involves by-passing payment of tax legally using loopholes to your advantage, while tax evasion means illegally evading paying tax.

“These schemes might not be a criminal offence per se,” says Ryder, “but ethically speaking, is it right for a multibillion pound company to be avoiding tax, when that money could go to funding a new hospital or a school?”

Ryder explains that a lot of jurisdictions, including the UK, have a flexible taxation system, as this can lead to more investment. It also possesses a highly complex tax code, which is one of the longest in the world. “You could argue that tax avoidance has been indirectly encouraged by government because it has such a complex legal framework that allows people to use loopholes,” says Ryder. “This also means that it’s often difficult to identify whether a business transaction constitutes tax avoidance or tax evasion,” he adds.

Bourton agrees, saying that there is often a connection between many of UK’s overseas territories (like the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands) and London, and this benefits the City. “Often tax advisers set up structures offshore that interact with accounts in London,” says Bourton. She points out that, looking at the data from the Paradise Papers, the UK features towards the top of the list when you look at individuals and companies implicated in tax avoidance.

Both Bourton and Ryder agree that more transparency in tax transactions is needed. “I am concerned about the secrecy that still exists around these tax cases,” says Ryder, commenting on the Paradise Papers. “How do we know that organised criminal gangs are not using these offshore financial centres to hide their proceeds of crime? If they are doing this, they are in effect money laundering, and that’s where they could be prosecuted,” he adds. In this respect, he believes that the UK adopts what he calls a “lacklustre” approach to enforcing its financial crime provisions.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has drawn up and is still developing a set of guidelines to ensure transparency and exchange of information where tax is involved.  But although most jurisdictions have signed up to the OECD standards, implementing them is likely to take several years to complete.

Commuting has Multiple Impacts on Employee Wellbeing

Blog originally posted on www.whatworkswellbeing.org. 

A study of Commuting and Wellbeing undertaken by Dr Kiron Chatterjee and Dr Ben Clark of the Centre for Transport & Society at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) shows how different modes of transport for commuting affect our wellbeing.   

Many of us spend longer commuting to work than we would like and find our journeys stressful, but how detrimental is commuting to our wellbeing?

The journey to and from work is a routine activity undertaken on about 160 days of the year by those who are full-time employed in England. The average one-way commute time is 30 minutes, hence commuting consumes about one hour per day for the average commuter. However, one in seven travellers has a commute time of one hour or more, spending at least two hours per day going to and from work.

lyon-cycle-laneThe impact of this travelling on our wellbeing has been studied before, but results have been inconclusive and we do not have a complete picture of how commuting affects different aspects of wellbeing.

Chatterjee and Clark’s study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), took advantage of Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which tracks the lives of a large, representative sample of households in England. The data set allowed them to examine how changes in different aspects of wellbeing from one year to the next were related to changing commuting circumstances for more than 26,000 workers in England over a five-year period.

As set out in their summary report, they found that, all else being equal, every extra minute of commuting time reduces job satisfaction, reduces leisure time satisfaction, increases strain in people’s lives and worsens mental health.

Job satisfaction (as measured on a 7-point scale) declines with commute time (the exception being the small proportion of workers with extreme commutes of over 90 minutes each way)

The effects of commuting on employee wellbeing were found to vary depending on the mode of transport used to get to work:

  1. Those who walk or cycle to work do not report reductions in leisure time satisfaction in the same way as other commuters, even with the same duration of commute. Presumably, active commuting is seen as a beneficial use of time.
  2. Bus commuters feel the negative impacts of longer journey times more strongly than users of other modes of transport. This could relate to the complexity of longer journeys by bus.
  3. Meanwhile, longer duration commutes by rail are associated with less strain than shorter commutes by rail. The researchers believe this is explained by those on longer train journeys being more likely to get a seat and to have comfortable conditions to relax or even to work.
  4. Those who work from home are found to have higher job satisfaction and leisure time satisfaction, but working from home is clearly not possible for everyone on a daily basis.

Their findings have particularly important implications for employers.  An additional 20 minutes of commuting each day was found (on average) to have the equivalent effect on job satisfaction as a 19% reduction in income – this is a loss of £4,080 per annum for someone earning £21,600 (the median value for our sample).  They found a gender difference for this result with longer commute times having a more negative impact on women’s job satisfaction than men’s. This is likely to be related to the greater household and family responsibilities that women tend to have. They also found that employees with longer commute times are more likely to change job, and this has implications for employee retention.

The overall message for employers is that job satisfaction can be improved if workers have opportunities to reduce their time spent commuting, to work from home, and/or to walk or cycle to work – such commuting opportunities are likely to be good news for employee wellbeing and retention and hence reduce costs to businesses.

Whilst Chatterjee and Clark found that longer commute times have adverse wellbeing effects for job satisfaction, and even more markedly for leisure time satisfaction, they were not found to have a large impact on life satisfaction overall. Their analysis showed that this is because longer commute times are taken on for jobs which provide higher salaries and other benefits which serve to increase life satisfaction.

This does not mean that the negative wellbeing impacts of longer commutes can be disregarded. It is important to recognise the negative impacts on job satisfaction, leisure time satisfaction and mental health. People are only likely to continue to accept that a long commute is a price to pay if it is unavoidable and a social norm.

The Commuting & Wellbeing study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (Grant Number ES/N012429/1). The project was led by Dr Kiron Chatterjee at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and ran for eighteen months from February 2016 to July 2017. A summary report from the study is available at https://travelbehaviour.com/outputs-commuting-wellbeing/

How to prepare for flooding: a guide

flood1This year has seen gargantuan hurricanes roaring across the Caribbean, with storms also making landfall in the UK, which can increase instances of flooding. Experts from organisations like the Met Office and the Environment Agency tell us that global warming will most likely lead to the UK experiencing increased flooding in the years to come. But don’t despair: there is help and advice at hand and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)’s Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience is a hive of information. 

Dr Jessica Lamond is Associate Professor in flood risk management and works within the research centre. Below are some of her tips on how best to prepare for inundation in the UK, as well as ideas on how to mitigate the impact of water if it enters our homes:

– When renting or buying a house, visit the Environment Agency’s (EA) website to check if the property is in a flood plain. The EA provides maps showing zones susceptible to flooding. However, view these with caution as they are still somewhat imprecise, and a house that sits in a high risk zone can still be at very low risk of flooding due to its elevation. Another source of information is Know Your Flood Risk.

– Make sure you take out building and household insurance. Most policies in the UK include flood damage, but check with your insurer to be sure that this is included in the policy.

– If you receive a flood warning in your area, put in place a plan of action in advance i.e. work out how you will take the kids to school, how to protect your belongings in your house (i.e. move them upstairs), where to put your car, and where to put your pets etc.

– It sounds obvious, but keep all documents upstairs or, if living in a bungalow, keep a copy of them in another safe place, such as a friend’s home.

– If your home is at risk of flooding or is actually flooded, don’t despair. There is a lot of help out there from organisations such as the National Flood Forum.

– When taking out your next household insurance policy, find out about Flood Re, a flood re-insurance scheme that enables you to keep your premiums down, even if you have already claimed for flood damage.

– Once your home has been flooded, watch out for access to government funding. Sometimes you can access money to help guard your house’s structure against further flooding.

– You can modify your home to make it more flood resilient. Such measures include buying a flood resistant front door that fully seals when closed, smart ventilation bricks (these contain small balls that rise up when in contact with water and seal the air holes), and water-resistant wall coatings on the outside of the house.  There are also ways of protecting the inside of your house.

Of course the above tips are for those susceptible to flooding. However, UWE Bristol’s Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience also assesses the causes of flooding, some of which are man-made. For more information on how the Centre is addressing this and many other issues around flood risk management, click here.

Enterprise network helps creatives develop ideas into sustainable businesses

Creative entrepreneurs and small companies in the West of England looking to develop their ideas into a sustainable business are invited have the opportunity to join the Network for Creative Enterprise.

This tailored programme of SME support is designed to help creative practitioners access knowledge, expand their network and benefit from invaluable business support to help their venture gain momentum.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Arts Council England, the scheme is a partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the Watershed. It also incorporates incubation ‘hubs’ operated by Knowle West Media Centre, Spike Island, and Pervasive Media Studio – all based in Bristol – and The Guild, located in Bath.

ArtfulInnovationExports_shamphat_photography-logo-gradientThese creative hubs offer tailored events, workshops and mentoring for individuals and small enterprises to support their business development from the idea stage through to start-up and on to growth.

“I am delighted that UWE Bristol is working with partners to support entrepreneurs in the creative industries sector through this project and helping to drive innovation and growth,” said Professor Martin Boddy, UWE Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement. “The Cultural Industries across the UK are a very significant and fast-expanding sector, with Bristol a key centre of national and international importance. We will be working hard to help the sector innovate and expand, with a number of further important initiatives already in the pipeline,” he said.

The four creative hubs provide unique opportunities for creative entrepreneurs. While The Factory at Knowle West Media Centre offers facilities such as product design and prototyping services, Spike Island is an international centre for the development of contemporary art and design with opportunities for artists to take up residency. The Guild is a co-working space for start-ups – not just creative – and the Pervasive Media Studio hosts a community of people exploring creative technology as they work in a collaborative studio where they can explore and test out new ideas.

Whichever hub individuals are associated with, they can attend any of the workshops and mentoring sessions that take place across the four locations throughout the year. These sessions cover useful topics such as how to build a brand, writing good design briefs, business models, and mapping business growth.

The Network for Creative Enterprise is delivered by a team of producers. Their role is to spot creative potential, make connections across the region, deliver one-to-one support for the resident businesses and nurture the development of their creative ideas.

Watershed Managing Director Dick Penny said, “Growth in the cultural and creative industries relies on a constant supply of talented people with great ideas, often working freelance. Network for Creative Enterprise will build on the work of the consortium partners to create an innovative networked incubation approach, developing and growing creative micro enterprises which are often the invisible engine of the creative economy.”

The programme runs until June 2019. To apply for one of the residency opportunities, click here.

Network for Creative Enterprise is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Arts Council England. It will be receiving up to £500,000 of funding from the ERDF, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. Established by the European Union and Managed in the UK by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

Pro Bono work: a win-win for students, businesses and society

Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are involved in Pro Bono work as far afield as Kenya and Uganda, the United States, as well as in the UK. Law and business students – both undergraduates and postgraduates – provide all manner of unpaid assistance to businesses, and individuals who have limited access to legal help. This is a win-win for companies, students, and some individuals who have limited access to help. 

“In this day and age, with the lack of governmental help, Universities who can assist are expected to do so,” explains Marcus Keppel-Palmer, who is Associate Head of Department – Pro Bono, and a Law lecturer. “We have a repository of knowledge, expertise, and students who are keen to acquire experience,” he adds. The numerous voluntary activities, which are led and developed by the students themselves, include the following:

Courts

Offered to individuals with no legal representation, the Law Court Clinics involve Bar students providing on-the-spot assistance to those with no prior knowledge of court proceedings. For two days a week, the postgraduates provide the service alongside a charity at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre. In the same vein, LIP Service (referring to ‘litigants in person’), which UWE Bristol is a part of, raises awareness for those representing themselves, in advance of their hearing. Undergraduates offer training on what to expect in court, what defendants can and cannot ask/do during proceedings, and how to present a case.

Welfare/ Benefits support

Such volunteering also assists those making disability claims. In collaboration with a number of charities and organisations, student volunteers help individuals with the wording in their claims forms to maximise success in receiving or retaining benefits. Legal advice is also provided if an appeal is required,  following an unsuccessful claim. “If your disability benefits are cut, then you can’t afford a lawyer to challenge that, let alone access legal aid because it’s been cut in this area,” says Keppel-Palmer. This work on appeal claims yields almost 100% successful.

Mentoring and Street Law

With a view to helping school pupils learn more about studying Law, first year students from the Law department provide mentoring at schools and colleges in the Bristol area. Pupils can also attend mock trials held at the Bristol Business School’s court rooms. “This Pro Bono activity provides UWE students with additional skills such as public speaking or team work,” says Keppel-Palmer.

Private clients – Elder Law

Teaming up with charities such as Paul’s Place, undergraduate students from Bristol Business School’s law department offer assistance on matters concerning wills, probate and power of attorney.

Businesses

The business school’s Business Advice Clinics involves students providing basic one-to-one accountancy, marketing and legal support for graduate start-ups in Launch Space, UWE Bristol’s graduate incubation space. One accountancy and four law firms assist with this activity. “This provides top quality advice to the Launch Space incubators and, for students, networking opportunities with the firms,” says Keppel-Palmer.

Pro Bono business activities also extend to helping musicians get a foothold in the music industry, where legal knowledge carries weight. BMAS is a system of clinics and one-to-ones run by law students who meet with budding musicians and other creatives from all over the world. The free legal service includes advice on publishing deals, contracts etc.

Crime

Pro Bono work has also enabled volunteers to work with countries in East Africa. With a focus on Kenya and Uganda, the African Prisons Project encourages prisoners to study Law to understand their legal rights. The service enables inmates to be in a stronger position to challenge their cases.

The Anti Death-Penalty Group is aimed at students interested in crime and criminology. This activity enables them to raise awareness about death row by working with a law firm in Virginia (US), where undergraduates can also attend a five-week summer placement. Some have worked on cases involving Guantanamo Bay. “They often come back transformed after meeting death row inmates,” says Keppel-Palmer.

Community Asset Transfer

Closer to home, postgraduate law students offer free legal assistance in projects involving the takeover of public assets by charities. These are long-running projects and the University usually takes on one a year.

Win-win

Bristol Business School’s Pro Bono work provides multiple benefits for all involved. “All these activities provide incalculable benefits for students,” says Keppel-Palmer. “Many find themselves more confident and find that they get jobs out of them. There are also massive amounts of good will generated through the work that is done and that makes people feel good in themselves.”

Top UWE Bristol marketing graduate to explore new markets for award-winning engineering firm

A graduate from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) who worked on the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project while studying at the University has secured a job as Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate with Viper Innovations. Kim Mahoney, who graduated top of her year in 2017 with a first class degree in Marketing Communications, will help the engineering company to take its technology to new markets.

Viper Innovations was named West of England Business of the Year 2017 (for a business with a turnover of less than £30m) at a ceremony organised by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in September.

The engineering firm develops fault detection systems that can monitor structural defects in cables and their insulation. Historically, it has worked with the oil and gas industries, but saw opportunities to transfer the highly sought-after technology to other sectors. To pave the way for this diversification, in 2016 it underwent a re-branding, changing its name from Viper Subsea to Viper Innovations.

Part-funded by Innovate UK (the UK’s innovation agency), a KTP is a three-way partnership between a business, an academic institution and a high-calibre graduate (called an ‘Associate’) with technical expertise.

Although UWE Bristol is one of the partners on the KTP with Viper Innovations, the job was advertised nationwide and Kim Mahoney was selected from 30 candidates, following a series of interviews.

Viper Innovations, based in Portishead, has already started working with Network Rail and its supply chain partners to develop and apply its technology to the rail signalling power systems. Kim will support the engineering company identify, screen and evaluate additional new markets where its technology can be applied, before ranking them in order of best rate of return.

5717While studying for her degree, Kim directly applied her learning and honed the skills gained on the course by working as a Sponsorship Manager on the Bloodhound project. Her work supported the team working on the car, who are aiming for a land speed record of 800mph.

Kim said the KTP is providing her with invaluable experience, “This KTP presents not only a high-tech marketing opportunity, but also the experience to work with different cultures and practices, and truly shape my global marketing skills.”

Tracy Hunt-Fraisse is UWE Bristol’s academic supervisor on the project and is overseeing Kim’s work. Tracy has previously worked as Global Head of Marketing for Speedo and as Planning Director at Levi’s Europe. She said, “We will bring business development expertise and apply tried and tested marketing methods to help Viper with their client in the rail industry to help them learn how best to approach other new markets. We will then look at markets where power outage or downtime is potentially very expensive, like hospitals or airports, for instance.”

“It’s not very often you have a marketing communications student who is interested in engineering. Kim’s background with Bloodhound has placed her in a strong position and she has a passion for finding out how things work.”

Peter Alexander, Marketing and Business Acquisition Manager at Viper Innovations, said the company aims to enter two new markets by the end of the KTP, “The University’s knowledge and experience of entering new markets with new products in different parts of the world will lead us to having a toolkit to verify and validate our ideas, and make us think differently.” We now have the essential ingredients: the right associate and a team in place to achieve what is a challenging target.”

For more information about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at UWE Bristol, please visit: www.uwe.ac.uk/business.

 

Do you have a hi-tech business idea? Launch Space offers free desk space for one year

Recent graduates from across the UK who have a bright idea for a high-tech business are invited to apply for a free residency in ‘Launch Space‘ at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

‘Launch Space’, a graduate high-tech business incubator that provides start-ups with one year of free desk space and innovation support, is now accepting applications for new residencies that will commence from the end of October 2017.

High-tech, innovation and research focused graduate start-ups can benefit from the chance to develop business contacts, gain access to mentorship and talks by visiting companies.Press release image with logo

They are also able to access UWE Bristol’s research community, tap into student talent through work placements, internships and recruitment, and make full use of all the facilities offered on campus.

The Launch Space incubator forms part of a larger UWE Bristol innovation support programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Located in the £16m University Enterprise Zone on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus, alongside the Future Space technology incubation centre and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, its residents benefit from co-location with other growing, innovative enterprises.

“We are particularly excited that, through launch Space, we can provide office space and innovation support to graduate-led start-ups. This helps the West of England to retain and nurture entrepreneurial talent and the University to build on its commitment to supporting enterprise,” said Professor Martin Boddy, who is UWE Bristol’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement.

Residency in the incubator is available to individuals who have graduated from any UK university in the past three years. Those applying are required to have a UK-based business located or operating in the West of England (Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire, and North Somerset). If they are a pre-start enterprise, and have not yet registered their business, the Launch Space team can help with this process.

Interested graduates can apply for the new residencies online until 30 September 2017, with interviews planned for the first week of October. Those selected will then attend a three-day induction.

Current residents of Launch Space span a wide range of innovative technology ideas. One entrepreneur is designing an environmental mask that filters out harmful pollutants and automatically notifies the user when contaminants are present in the air. Another is designing an app to make it easier for the rental of student accommodation. The platform bypasses estate agents and removes the need to pay a deposit upfront.

Launch Space is part of a larger UWE Bristol programme that is receiving up to £2,000,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is the programme’s Managing Authority.

Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

Helping India to help itself with water management and reforestation

Dr Mark Everard is driven by a desire to shape the direction of development and influence world views about sustainability, given his love of nature. This drive has taken him all over the world and most recently to India, where he is working on two projects. One involves reforestation in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the other pertains to water management in the north-west state of Rajasthan. “I think, globally, people have forgotten the importance of nature and my work is to help re-invent an ecologically based economy,” says the environmentalist, who is Associate Professor of Ecosystem Services at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

Tamil Nadu

One element of Everard’s work in India is in partnership with The Converging World (TCW), a charity that helps regions in India work towards low-carbon energy production and development. One of the charity’s activities is to install wind turbines before recycling a proportion of operating surpluses into reforestation across the country.

Nadukuppam_forest
The beginnings of a forest at Nadukuppam

Reforestation, the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands, provides multiple benefits. First there is the positive impact on people and nature, including hydrological buffering (helping with flood reduction and water resource regenerations), biodiversity enhancement, microclimate, and production of food and medicinal resources. A 40 year-old restored forest at Pitchandikulam demonstrates this. Tended from initial plantings on degraded farmland, it now hosts a diversity of wildlife, medicinal plants and a cold microclimate.

Then there are the carbon and climate benefits. By analysing data on carbon storage in the region’s typical forests, Everard and colleagues have demonstrated that an area of forest restored by incremental investments throughout the operational life of a wind turbine can sequester 3,000 times more carbon dioxide than that averted by the wind turbine.

Along with partners, Everard is involved in an ongoing reforestation programme around Nadukuppam village.  The planting of young trees began two years ago, and the involvement and empowerment of local people has played a vital role in its progress. The academic has now contributed to two scientific papers about the scheme.

Rajasthan

In India’s largest state, Everard is involved in a different environmental issue: water management. Rajasthan is a desert state and is today experiencing rapidly depleting groundwater levels and increasing geological contamination of the water, as mechanised pumping of deep groundwater becomes more common.

The region contains many traditional water management methods attuned to local geography, rainfall and culture. Unfortunately, a lot of this traditional water wisdom is lost today, according to the academic. “When the water levels decline, traditional water extraction techniques may cease to work, so interest in communal efforts to replenish it are displaced by competitive pumping of receding water,” he explains.

The environmentalist therefore looks at success factors in cases where people have reversed the cycle of degradation.  He collaborates with NGOs working with local people to restore traditional water harvesting solutions, as well as more modern innovations that complement local hydrology, geography and cultural perspectives. Such solutions can help intercept infrequent and increasingly erratic monsoon rains, enabling them to percolate into groundwater insulated from the region’s high evaporation rate and available for year-round access. In partnership with Wells for India and to highlight these effective methods, Everard is shortly publishing a guide in Hindi and English documenting over 30 ‘water wise’ water harvesting techniques in the region.

For example, monsoon run-off can be harvested using a ‘Johad’ (semi-circular mound of earth) that is adapted to drainage lines on sloping land with a permeable surface. The water is detained and able to recharge soil moisture and shallow groundwater, accessible year-round using open wells. Other solutions are adapted to where the land is sloped or flat, permeable or impermeable.

Mark_Kesar_village
Meeting with villagers in Rajasthan

Using this evidence, Everard communicates with highly placed officials in the Rajasthan government to remind them of such water resource recharge practices that have kept communities in the region viable over centuries. The academic says that authorities are beginning to recognise the need to rebuild ecosystem vitality from the bottom up.  “The Additional Chief Conservator of Forests in the Government of Rajasthan has recognised that the work we have published at UWE Bristol contains jigsaw pieces useful in converting high-level aspirations into practical reality.” Everard has already published three papers on this topic with three more in the pipeline.